Friday, November 6, 2015

The Installation of the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church

The Most Rev. Michael Curry installed.
This past Saturday and Sunday were amazingly remarkable days in the life of The Episcopal Church. It was my good fortune to be able to attend both the Vigil at the DC Armory on Saturday and the Installation of The Most Rev. Michael Curry at the National Cathedral on Sunday, the Feast of All Saints. The presence of the Holy Spirit was evident!

Saturday’s event was sponsored by the Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE).  They turned the DC Armory into church for the day, creating wonderful worship space from a building which the preacher, The Rev. Sandye Wilson, noted had been used for a horse show just a few weeks ago!  As she shared, if you smell something, it’s legitimate!

The liturgy was on the “high” side of the spectrum with no less than three thurifers swinging the smoke in the processions in and out. Joyful music and laughter were a big part of the service, clearly a celebration in every sense of the word. I sat next to former Integrity USA Treasurer Lis Jacobs. She was delightful company. Bishop Michael and I hugged and spoke briefly.

Sunday began with some rainy weather but that would prove not to dampen anyone’s spirits. I arrived at the National Cathedral early enough to be fourth in line! I was fortunate enough to be in a seat about twenty rows back from the altar and next to a large screen monitor. Between my location and the monitor, I missed very little of a powerful and joyful service.

The procession was in multiple parts/sections involving Native Americans drumming in a rhythmic and almost hypnotic cadence. Bishops of our church were seated in the first chair of each row along the center aisle. A double row of bishops occupied the fore and aft rows of the crossing where the Gospel was read. An aerial view provided the reason for this unusual seating pattern:  The red of the bishops’ vestments formed a gigantic and dramatic red cross!

Then came the knock on the great center doors of the west entrance by still Presiding Bishop-elect Curry. He was welcomed with thunderous responses from the congregation of some 2,500. We renewed our Baptismal Covenant and were asperged by Bishop Michael and The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, who clearly enjoyed themselves in the process.

The Primatial Staff was then given to Bishop Michael by Bishop Katharine and he became the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. He was then seated in the stall of the Great Choir designated for the Presiding Bishop.

The Liturgy of the Word continued with prayers for the Presiding Bishop offered by representatives of four faith communities, followed by the Gloria and the appropriate collects and readings for the Feast of All Saints. Bishop Michael’s sermon was next.

It was clear for ears that would listen that our new Presiding Bishop’s vision for The Episcopal Church is one that includes welcome for ALL at the table.  He intends to exclude no one. He specifically mentioned sexual orientation in his sermon. I’m not sure I had ever actually heard those words at such an occasion before. Code words perhaps, but not the exact words; references perhaps, but not such specific words.

I found myself thinking back to another Presiding Bishop, The Most Rev. Edmund Browning. He proclaimed that there would be no outcasts in The Episcopal Church. That was his intent and his vision and he paid a price for such forward thinking in the early 90’s. Yet he stayed the course as much as anyone could in such stormy seas. I will always be grateful for his extraordinary leadership.

From my perspective, Bishop Michael will indeed move us forward to the realization of the goals that there will be no outcasts in our church and that all will be welcome in it. The task is not his alone, however. Each of us must do our part in bringing into being the beloved kingdom where all are equal in God’s eyes.

The presence of the Holy Spirit was most evident to me at two times in the service.  The Cathedral Choir of Men and Girls sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” during the offertory.  On the last chorus, as the oblations and offering came down the aisle, the congregation stood and joined in the singing.  It was an emotional moment.  Then when Bishop Michael said: “Let us join hands and sing the prayer our Savior taught us” it was remarkable to watch everyone take a hand and even more moving to see the bishops seated on the aisle to step out into the aisle to take the hand across from them.  Then at the closing words of the Lord’s Prayer, all hands were raised together.  I choked up and could not sing.

The service continued with the Eucharist, something ordinary for us but extraordinary in this time and place. I have rarely heard a congregation be so forceful in responding in the liturgy and in singing.

The closing hymn was “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and earth and heaven did truly ring! I was blessed to have been present.  It was an experience of a lifetime. Yes, indeed, the presence of the Holy Spirit was evident, almost palpable.  And yes, God is good... all the time!

Bruce Garner, President
Integrity USA

Monday, October 26, 2015

Integrity in the Diocese of Indianapolis

Diocesan Coordinator John Steele
and his husband John Cutter
The Diocese of Indianapolis celebrated two events this weekend.

The new Diocesan Coordinator, John Steele, made Integrity's presence known at its second half convention (the dioceses held two half conventions this year). John is a Delegate to the Convention and a newlywed to John Cutter. At the convention, seven resolutions passed: review alcohol policies for church events, study parental leave issues, strengthen greater cooperation among dioceses, commit to greater study around racism, respond to the work of the church-wide task force on the study of marriage and their resources, engage in more Bible study, and commit to work toward food security issues in local communities.

Moreover, Integrity's newest chapter celebrated its inauguration at Trinity Church, Bloomington. Convenor Ed Brandon invited Province V Coordinator David Fleer to speak at Trinity's adult forum on Sunday, October 25. David spoke about Integrity's history and its future to a friendly audience of parishioners. He also stressed the grass roots nature of Integrity, emphasizing the importance of local initiative in directing the attention of Integrity on matters of interest to the church.

Join us in celebrating the ways Integrity proclaims God's inclusive love throughout the Church.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Join us on Spirit Day this October 15

Join us on Spirit day this October 15th. Integrity's forty year support of LGBT Episcopalians includes our youth, and we wholeheartedly encourage efforts to make the public aware of the suffering of those whose lives are made miserable, or worse ended, as a result of bullying.

According to GLAAD, "Spirit Day began in 2010 as a way to show support for LGBT youth and take a stand against bullying. Following a string of high-profile suicide deaths of gay teens in 2010, GLAAD worked to involve millions of teachers, workplaces, celebrities, media outlets and students in going purple on social media or wearing purple, a color that symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag. Spirit Day now occurs every year on the third Thursday in October, during National Bullying Prevention Month, and has become the most visible day of support for LGBT youth."

We invite you to wear purple on October 15th, and be willing to tell people why. Show your support for our children, and let them know that you support them. Feel free to tweet and Facebook your purple with the #SpiritDay hashtag. Turn your Twitter and Facebook profile photo purple using this link.

For our Bishops and Priests, we ask that you wear purple on October 18th, and designate it Spirit Sunday. Use purple as your liturgical color that day, and make it clear that we, as Christians, need to support our LGBT youth - some of the most vulnerable in our society.

Pledge to go purple!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pride and Welcome in the Desert

Last weekend the parish of Christ Church, Las Vegas welcomed Integrity President Matt Haines to be a part of their weekend of LGBTQ Pride.  Activities began by  marching as a church through Downtown Las Vegas Friday September 17th.  Saturday Christ Church rector, The Rev. Dr. J. Barry Vaughn hosted a reception bringing together key parish leaders and LGBT members to discuss further intentional welcome.  Events culminated Sunday with a dynamic "Rector's Forum" focused on how to build radical welcome after marriage equality and of course Eucharist where Matt Haines preached on welcoming powerlessness.  To hear or read the sermon click here.

Friday, September 18, 2015

President Elect Bruce Garner Excited for Integrity's Future

I am honored to be Integrity USA’s President.  Yes, I realize my name was the only one on the ballot! But you did have the option of writing in other choices.  So, yes, I am honored and my goal is to serve you and our organization well.
The year 2015 has been an historic year in both the Episcopal Church and in the United States in the long journey for full inclusion and equal rights and rites for persons who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning…LGBTQ folks.  We can legally marry our same gender partners in both church and civil ceremonies.  Yes, that is remarkable, but it is only one step of many on a still long path to where we are entitled to be.
While we can marry, we can still be fired from employment in too many states.   We can still be conveniently overlooked in the clergy deployment process in too many dioceses.  We still face obstacles in adopting children, especially second parent adoptions.  We are still the objects of those who want to inflict bodily harm on us because of who we are.  The actions and attitudes of a County Clerk in Kentucky over the last few weeks’ stand witness to how much still needs to change for us to be fully included in both society and church.
Twenty five years ago I was in the same position I am in now:  President of Integrity, having been elected in 1990.  We had recently concluded the work of the General Convention of 1991.  That convention was a water shed convention born out of the pain of exclusion…..and that pain began to surface in Phoenix, Arizona, as the convention progressed.  The pain also began to be healed at that convention.  Two gay deputies came out on the floor of the House of Deputies and the building did not collapse.  The first serious debate about LGBTQ issues of inclusion took place before hundreds if not a thousand of deputies and bishops.  I will never forget the impromptu gathering outside an exhibit hall after that debate as we formed a circle and began to sing songs and hymns, many with tears streaming down our faces, particularly as we sang “We shall overcome.”
That was a beginning and much has changed.  Much has not changed.
At the 1991 General Convention, unpleasant events actually enabled me to meet with the Presiding Bishop, the Vice President and Secretary of the House of Bishops and my own bishop.  We began conversations that would continue after the convention.  I was able to negotiate the first meeting of an Integrity President with a Presiding Bishop, namely Ed Browning.  That led to a meeting between him and the Board of Directors of Integrity….another first time event.  These meetings came at a great price to Bishop Browning.   At times we seemed to be engaging in clandestine events!  Yet he was intent on being true to having said that there would be no outcasts in the Episcopal Church.
Neither I nor the board at the time could have achieved what we were able to do without the hard work of my predecessor as President of Integrity, Kim Byham.  He and I often took different approaches to issues, but we worked together and I count him as a dear friend as each of us has aged and allegedly mellowed over the years!  None of us works alone. 
We all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us.  We walk on the bridges others have built as they have gone before us.  We are obligated to build bridges for those who come after us, even if we are not likely to ever have need of what we have built.
Over these past years I saw canonical changes, resolutions, etc. that were intended to bring equality to our LGBTQ sisters and brothers……or at least they did on paper.  Reality hasn’t always been the same as what was “on the paper.”  We have much work to do.
I have witnessed the election and consecration of a gay male and a lesbian female as bishops of the church even as we became more and more aware of hundreds of openly out and proud LGBTQ clergy in our church.  But such is not true everywhere.  Our sisters and brothers in some provinces of the church and in some diocese must continue to stand behind closet doors as they engage in their callings as priests, deacons and bishops of our church. We have much work to do.
The year 2015 will go down in the history books as another water shed year because we gained the right to marry the person we love in both our church and in secular society.  Again, that is not true in all places…..subtle and not so subtle barriers continue to exist.
Let me also be clear that being able to marry the person we love does not equate to having achieved equality as LGBTQ persons.  We can still be fired from jobs because of sexual orientation and gender expression/identity in too many places.  We have no protection of guarantees of housing or public accommodation in too many places.  Our children…all children and teens….do not have the protections they need against being bullied and harassed in schools and in society.  Our trans sisters and brothers who find themselves incarcerated face even more terrible discrimination from authorities that has the potential to undo what they have achieved in their lives simply trying to live as the person God created them to be.  Too many of our trans sisters and brothers are being murdered with law enforcement not apparently giving these cases the attention due them.  Those living with HIV/AIDS are often denied critical medications needed to treat them while they are in jails and prisons.  We have much work to do.
And, my sisters and brothers, the demon of racism continues to raise its ugly head within our LGBTQ community and within the broader community.  The insidiousness of racism further compounds the work we must be about in achieving equality in our church and in our world.  None of us are free until all of us are free.  We have much work to do.
I am very aware that there has been some turmoil and dysfunction within Integrity.  My goal is to address and resolve those issues as much as they can be resolved.  Part of that resolution will be the transparency of how I and the rest of the board of directors operate.  For a few examples:  minutes of each board meeting will be published on the Integrity website following their approval at the subsequent meeting.  Financial reports will also be published once approved and accepted at a board meeting.  Dates, times and locations of board meetings will be posted on Integrity’s website so that any who wish to attend may do so.  Board meetings are always open except when discussing personnel issues (and the acquisition of property, which is highly unlikely to be an issue for us!).
We all have work to do until that day when Integrity herself can retire because there is no question anywhere in our church about the full inclusion of ALL LGBTQ people and the motto that “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” is truly a reality.

I am indeed honored to be President of Integrity USA.  With the help of our Board of Directors, our Provincial Coordinators, our Chapter Convenors, and with the help and support of every member of Integrity, we can address and resolve the issues that remain before us.  Let us strive forward to what lies ahead with the wind of the Holy Spirit pushing us and the still small voice of God calling us.  We have much work to do.

New Board of Directors: Servant Leaders at the Ready

By:  Matt Haines, President

This past General Convention has called the Episcopal Church to lead and serve in even more inclusive ways.  Integrity USA is excited to answer that call.  We now have a full Board of Directors ready to serve the church and our movement through uncharted possibilities. 

Each of the people who volunteered to run for election and were chosen to serve bring unique gifts to their upcoming ministries. They are united, however, in their dedication and faith in the future of this organization.

The new Board has many things going for it which will prove to be valuable as our work continues to evolve.  Four of the six members live in Southern states (Provinces 4 and 7), which means that the needs of this region will be better represented than ever before.  Three members identify as either transgender or gender non-conforming.  There is no doubt that their voices and votes on this Board will help Integrity to be even more sensitive and equipped to serve this growing demographic in our church. We have laypeople, a deacon and a priest serving fully according to their callings. Each member has a long history of local activism, church involvement and servant leadership.  Your new Board of Directors are:

Bruce Garner, President (Diocese of Atlanta)
The Rev. Gwen Fry, V.P. of National Affairs (Diocese of Arkansas)
S Wayne Mathis, V.P. of Local Affairs (Diocese of Texas)
The Rev. Carolyn Woodall, Stakeholder's Chair (Diocese of San Joaquin)
Mel Soriano, Secretary/Communications (Diocese of Los Angeles)
Deanna Bosch, Treasurer (Diocese of Texas)

Integrity USA's mission is “to inspire and equip the Episcopal Church, its dioceses, congregations and members to proclaim and embody God's all-inclusive love for LGBTQ persons and those who love them”.  Your new Board of Directors are excited to work toward this holy goal.  Please love and support them as they honor you with their selfless service.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Election for President of Integrity Sep 7 - Sep 14

Every three years Integrity elects a Board of Directors to serve the mission of our organization. On the last day of General Convention we announced the results of that election. At that time no one had been nominated for the role of president; hence there was no one was elected to that position.

In order to fill the vacancy, nominations were announced and have been open since General Convention. The deadline to file as a candidate was August 28, 2015.

We are happy to announce that someone stepped up to lead in this special ministry. The membership now can finish the election process with a full slate.

While there is only one candidate on the ballot, write-in votes are permitted per the bylaws. All members in good standing are eligible to vote and will be emailed a secure ballot. If you do not receive an emailed ballot by Monday, September 7, 2015 please contact Laura Zeugner ( to verify membership status and to be issued a ballot.

The candidate statement is shown below.

The election will run from 8 am EDT Monday, September 7 to 8 pm EDT Monday, September 14. Results will be posted here on our blog, Walking With Integrity.

Please join other members in voting for president. The current and incoming Boards of Directors appreciate your support and prayers as we begin our transition in the new triennium October 1st.

Matt Haines,

Candidate for President Statement:  Bruce Garner

I live in the diocese of Atlanta and worship at All Saints’ parish in Atlanta where I have served as Head Verger for over 19 years. I am a delegate to our Annual Diocesan Council and a member of the Executive Board of the Diocese of Atlanta. I serve as chair of the Diocesan Commission on LGBTQ Ministry and the Diocesan Commission on AIDS.

I have been active in Integrity at various levels since the early 1980’s, having served as National President, National AIDS Coordinator, Provincial Coordinator, Chapter Convenor and currently Chapter Secretary/Treasurer.

At the church-wide level, I have served on the Executive Council and on several commissions, committees, etc. of the church. I am currently a Trustee for The General Theological Seminary located in New York.

I bring nearly 35 years of non-profit board experience to any work I set out to do, having served “startups” to mature agencies.  A more comprehensive list of my non-profit work is attached. (Ed. note: Document on file with the Secretary of Integrity.)

I think God is calling me to this ministry for two reasons. First there is that sometimes annoying tapping of the finger on the shoulder that tries to get my attention. Second, I think I have the skills from my previous work to help Integrity USA find a path to a different level of mission in The Episcopal Church in light of the changes that took place at our General Convention this year and in light of the changes taking place in the secular world. These events represent one level of change regarding the LGBTQ community. There remains an inadequately addressed level at the diocesan and parish level to bring further full inclusion of LGBTQ children of God into the rich life of The Episcopal Church at all levels. Integrity needs to find that path and clear away the debris and make it a highway toward full inclusion in our church.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Are You Called to Lead Integrity as President?

Integrity members have elected an extraordinary group of leaders to serve on the Board of Directors!  Each person elected will bring real value to our organization as Integrity builds upon the successes of General Convention. 

The position of President has not yet been filled.  We need someone with a love of service and heart for our mission to lead our dynamic new board.  Please consider nominating yourself or others to this ministry.

We need to receive your nomination by Friday August 28, 2015. You may submit an application to:

In the application please include the following information:

  • Name, Address, Phone, Email
  • 2-3 paragraphs about yourself
    • your diocese and your experience with Integrity
    • the skills/experience you will bring to this position
    • why you think God may be calling you to this position

The only requirement to run is that you are a member of Integrity. So please make sure your membership is up to date!

You are welcome to contact Matt Haines ( or other current Board members if you want to know more about what’s involved.
Once nominations are closed, current members will be sent online ballots.

Please join us in praying that God will raise up leaders among us who can joyfully take on the responsibilities of this organization so that we may further God's kingdom together!
Below is the section from our bylaws describing the duties of the President. 

   Article 5. Duties of Officers

      Section 1. President

         A. If and when there is no Executive Director, the President shall be the

principal spokesperson for the organization and shall be the chief

representative of Integrity to the Episcopal Church and the Anglican

Communion, and other organizations domestic and foreign.

         B. The President shall chair meetings of the Board.

         C. The President shall have charge of, and may with the concurrence of the

Board, appoint committees and individuals to assist in carrying out the

programs and obligations of the organization; shall be a member ex-officio

of all committees and task forces; and shall make regular reports to the

membership of Integrity.

The full bylaws can be found on Integrity’s Website. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

What’s Next Integrity-- Are We Done? Are You Kidding?

What’s Next Integrity-- Are We Done?  Are You Kidding?

By:  Matt Haines, President

“When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”  Jesus of Nazareth  (LK 12:48)

We celebrate great gains these past several weeks!  We had many great successes at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City.  The Sacrament of Marriage is now a reality for same-sex couples in our Church and will be available in most of our dioceses!  Our Church has condemned the evil torture of so called “Reparative (Conversion) Therapy”.  Transgender Episcopalians have asserted that their names are sacred and are to be recognized as holy within liturgy and church records; the Church concurred overwhelmingly.  The Episcopal Church has also voted to show solidarity with LGBTQ people in Africa and will lobby on their behalf.  Some might wonder—is Integrity is now finished with its mission.  Are we done?  Are you kidding me? 

·         Transgender people are being slaughtered on our streets weekly; suicide kills even more.

·         Gender-queer and Trans Christians often find our churches less than welcoming.  We must change this together.

·         Over 40% of all homeless youth are LGBTQ; most of them rejected by “Christian Homes”.

·         Over 70% of lesbians and gays tell the people they love about their orientation; bisexuals 28%.  This must improve if we are ever going to live in Integrity.  As a church and a movement we can no longer ignore the “B” in LGBTQ.  

·         All Dioceses must be held to the Gospel of Inclusion proclaimed by this Church.  We can no longer allow LGBTQ people, or children raised by LGBTQ couples, to be excluded from Holy Baptism!  Access to Holy Eucharist, Confirmation, Unction, Penance, must be available to all the baptized.  All who feel called to vocations in Holy Orders and/or Marriage must be taken seriously and be given the opportunity to live those vocations out.

·         We must still lead the Anglican Communion and offer special help to LGBTQ people in the many provinces where our people face prison or execution!

·         Racism and sexism still plague our nation, church, and our movement.  Together we need to engage in understanding how male privilege and institutional racism work against true equality.

We are now ready to begin to work even harder, with God’s help and yours!  The Supreme Court has recognized our right to marry and the Episcopal Church recognizes our marriages as sacramental.  Rights are nothing if not exercised and sacraments are meant to empower us to serve this broken world in Christ’s name. 

Are we in the Promised Land after 40 years in the desert?  Maybe—some of us are.  If you find yourself there, rejoice and start building up Zion for those still on the way.  If you are still in the desert, look for one another and keep an eye out for Jesus.  Jesus knows the way!  We have been given so much, thus we are required to give even more back in return.  Please join in our efforts to live into this gospel call.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Integrity Supports Rebuild the Churches Fund

Standing in solidarity with the victims of the outbreak of the burning of Black Churches, Integrity USA has pledged 25% of the offering from the General Convention Integrity Eucharist to the "Rebuild The Churches Fund," announced treasurer Elisabeth Jacobs.

Held on June 29, 2015 at the Salt Palace Salt Lake City, Utah the triennial celebration of God's inclusive love for absolutely everybody inspired a tremendous outpouring of generosity from those in attendance.

Our bookkeeper will be sending $1,038.66 to the fund this week. Integrity encourages its members and friends to "go and do likewise" by donating to this important work here. As Lester MacKenzie -- chaplain to the House of Deputies -- reminded us over and over "we are all together ... yo, yo, yo!"